Hyunjin looked down at her brand new uniform for the last time before lifting her eyes to the nervous princess meters away from her, the queen placed a thin crown over her daughter’s dark hair with a pleased smile as the younger gripped softly the fabric of her dress on a childish attempt to calm herself down before meeting the crowd waiting for her down stairs. Heejin used to enjoy balls, in fact it was one of her favorite things when she was much younger but with time it meant a million things but joy most of the times, facing people who expected that much of her made her stomach twist at the thought that just maybe she wasn’t going to be able to meet their expectations.
-The prince will be delighted with this dress. - The queen said with a smile fixing the waves of hair falling on the princess’s pale shoulders. - You have to cheer a little sweetie, smile for your guests.
The guard felt her chest tightening at the sight of Heejin’s eyes almost filling with tears as she forced a light smile to her pink lips, How did they no notice they were hurting her?, Hyunjin repeated to herself her position by grabbing the sword hanging elegantly from her waist, another princess’s gift. That night felt different from the others and taking a guess Hyunjin could say that she could own it to the prince’s treads, that ball was going to be the last place where she wanted to be around the princess knowing their relationship wasn’t exactly proper and that the princess was usually really bad at hiding it, especially then when all she felt as lonely as she did that night.
Heejin felt like the air was burning when her mother pulled her into a tight hug, it wasn’t honest or pure, it was nothing but a prize for her obedience, far for making her feel safe or loved it only made the princess realize how empty their relationship had become. Over her mother’s shoulders her gaze met her guard standing next to the door with her hand lightly pressed around her sword on a gesture Heejin already knew how to read, neither of them looked away yet nobody dared smiled at the other suddenly aware of the chaos that could lead if the queen or even her guards noticed something out of the ordinary.
-I’ll go meet your dad, okay? Don’t stain your dress while I’m gone- The queen said as she talked towards the wide doors already held opened for her and her small group of guards.
Heejin was surprised when even after the door closed Hyunjin didn’t move a single step closer to her, instead the taller looked at the wall behind her without any readable expression on her face, for the first time in months Hyunjin was decided to do nothing but the work she was hired to do even if it meant ignoring the princess as much as she could. Heejin walked to her in silence wrapping her arms around the solid body in front of her as soon as she was close enough to, this time she didn’t receive anything back immediately.
-This is not proper- Hyunjin called with her arms to the sides feeling how Heejin pulled her a little closer. - We can’t act like this tonight.
-We’re the only ones here- Heejin said with a frown making Hyunjin’s chest warm a little- Are you going to dance with me tonight?
-You know we can’t do that- Hyunjin remained lifting her hand to caress the princess’s cheek with her knuckles slowly- We can’t talk, you can’t give me food, and I really need you to remember you can’t touch me.
-What if I’m scared?- Heejin wondered with a smile knowing that whatever defense Hyunjin was trying to put over herself to push her away was already starting to be broken, the guard’s eyes softened.
-Then you just need to call me- Hyunjin assured making the princess’s smile wider.
One of the quickest things Hyunjin understood about her princess was that no matter if she was in the safest place on the whole kingdom there were still too many things she was scared of, the prince was one of them. The guard prayed to every holy figure she knew for the people to behave around the princess that night because she was sure that even if it was dangerous for her to she wouldn’t hesitate a single second to face whoever dared to bother her princess and Heejin knew that, Hyunjin looked forward when she felt the pair of soft lips reach her cheek for a second.
-Let’s go, being late it’s not proper- The princess mocked smiling at the guard who only narrowed her eyes at her.
Both of them seemed to need a moment to put themselves into the necessary mental space before opening the doors that kept them away from the noisy hallways filled with curious guests, Heejin looked back at the figure standing only a step behind her finding a soft smile of Hyunjin’s lips almost as a silent encouragement before they walked towards the ball room. The doors were held opened for the princess to enter quickly making everybody stop their activities to look at her with their chins up, proud of their younger ruler as much as they were of their parents.
The Jeons had a long list of fair rulers and the diplomatic friend they’ve collected over the years were aware of it, in fact, it was probably one of the biggest reasons they had so many allies for a country with no desires of war. After almost fourteen years of catastrophes brought to their people by the King’s grandfather there was only a single promise to be made to the next king and that was keeping their country in holy peace, focusing only on the needs they had instead of how many land they owned.
No matter how different and innovating the Jeons tried to be there were still traditions that had to be kept between the monarchists and the perfect proof of that was the man dancing with their daughter right in front of their eyes, almost taking the breaths away as they move with trained elegancy between the guests. Heejin had only a few years more before taking the torn yet that were only going to be possible if she had a man to her side and on that moment, watching her and the prince greeting their closest friends made the rulers feel like they accomplished everything they wanted for their daughter.
-I’m pleased to see you’ve grown so much- An older man said placing his hand on the princess’s soft cheek- I wish you happiness on your marriage, I bet you must be excited for your wedding- Heejin smiled at the man warmly, Lord Choi, her father’s oldest friend.
-We just can’t wait Lord Choi, I count the days to finally call her my wife- The prince answered with practiced excitement as the princess nodded beside him- I heard your kingdom has the best hunting horses on this side of the sea.
Hyunjin almost groans out loud watching the prince held Heejin into another conversation about hunting, the princess was doing more than good keeping her distance and despite the guard knew it was what it needed to be done she still felt a little disappointed because of it. The guard looked around them with her hands held on her back, silently studying the movements around her, the already drunk warriors on the other side of the room competing with the orchestra to proof who could fill the room with more noise, the elegant ladies talking on their tables almost made her laugh when she caught more than a look on her making them blush furiously at the idea of being caught. Maybe it was because of how distracted she was but when she felt a familiar warm hand land on her forearm Hyunjin almost jumps by pure surprise.
Heejin had to bite her tongue not to smile at her reacting as she looked at her for a second before her hand was squeezed lightly and dropped for the guard to give another step back, Hyunjin wondered if it would be too bad to risk it a little and just let the princess find the support she needed by holding her yet the idea was quickly erased when the prince’s arm held the princess’s thin body against his tightly.
-I’ll meet the other princesses before the dinner is served- Heejin announced to the prince with a smile that the man didn’t hesitate to kiss.
Hyunjin caught the lie just by the tone forcing herself to focus of other things before she could laugh at the lack of knowledge everybody seemed to have when it came to Heejin, only when they were far enough into the crowd she dared to stand next to the ruler with a soft smile placed on her lips, the princess didn’t need to look at her to know she was being watched with a fun expression.
-Must I assume you’re not really meeting the princesses- Hyunjin called, chuckling when Heejin only nodded as an answer.
-I think we need some fresh air- Heejin said talking a plate from the banquet without putting much attention to its content. - Thankfully the garden is big enough.
-I don’t really think we should go ou…-The guard tried to start holding a crystal glass the princess handed her.
-Do you really want to stay here?- Heejin wondered looking at her fully, with her eyes only on Hyunjin’s, the guard stayed silence- That’s what I thought.
Heejin loved the sense of risk being with Hyunjin gave her, it felt like a rush of electricity running through her body every time the guard pleased her idea no matter how crazy they could be, like walking together from a crowd salon where they shouldn’t even talk to being with. Surrounded by the bushes and seating on the farthest bench possible there was nothing that could stop them from being the real versions of themselves, not crowds to please, no distance to keep, just them.
-Everybody is asking me for you, did you hear them? - Heejin wondered tearing a piece of bread from the plate to smaller bits. - It seems like some of the other princess think that you’re pretty.
-And what did you tell them? - Hyunjin wondered with a smile opening when the princess’s hand held a piece of bread of her to eat.
-That I’m really sorry but I don’t think you’re leaving your work any soon- The princess giggle at her own childish acts, brushing the crumbs from the guard’s lips softly- I wish they could ask for the prince too, that way I wouldn’t hesitate to give him away.
-Guess I’m just better than him then- Hyunjin mocked making the princess laugh as she rested her head on her shoulder- We’ll be here only for a few minutes more, okay? I don’t want any trouble tonight.
Heejin took her hand in silence softly tracing the scars she spotted only days behind, her move were so gentle that the guard almost had to look at her actions to check it was her fingertips. Suddenly aware of the princess’s sensitive side Hyunjin softly kissed the top of the dark hair; it was the first time since they met she made a move without Heejin suggesting it first.
-Don’t think about them, It’s on the past- Hyunjin whispered softly yet still allowing for the princess to touch her healed wounds- I’m here now so you don’t need to worry about me fighting on battles anymore even if I need to do so, I’m strong enough to face them.
-I will make sure you don’t have to proof that to me- Heejin promised softly lifting her hands to kiss the guard’s knuckles softly. - I wish we could walk in there together like this.
- And make all those princesses sad? - Hyunjin joked with a chuckle making Heejin straight up to look at her with narrowed eyes- We should head back now; the night is almost over so you just need to hang a little longer.
The princess felt her heart jump a little when a hand was extended to her on the simplest gesture yet the one of the warmest Hyunjin did for her; Heejin wrapped her arms around the slender body burying her face on the guard’s neck who caressed her hair tenderly.
-Thank you for taking care of me Hyun- Heejin whispered feeling how strong arms squeezed her closer.
-You make it easy- Hyunjin said making the princess smile against her skin. - Do you want to know something?- Heejin nodded closing her eyes as she felt the short nails tracing her scalp- I really wish I could walk in there with you too.
Hyunjin didn’t say another word but Heejin didn’t need any other to understand.
It was hard for her to explain why she was so blushed the rest of the night.